Quotes on Constitution
The moment a mere numerical superiority by either states or voters in this country proceeds to ignore the needs and desires of the minority, and for their own selfish purpose or advancement, hamper or oppress that minority, or debar them in any way from equal privileges and equal rights - that moment will mark the failure of our constitutional system.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
I had a copy of the Soviet Constitution and I read it with great interest. And I saw all kinds of terms in there that sound just exactly like our own: "freedom of assembly" and "freedom of speech" and so forth. Of course, they don't allow them to have those things, but they're in there in the constitution. But I began to wonder about the other constitutions - everyone has one - and our own, and why so much emphasis on ours. And then I found out, and the answer was very simple - that's why you don't notice it at first. But it is so great that it tells the entire difference. All those other constitutions are documents that say, "We, the government, allow the people the following rights," and our Constitution says "We, the People, allow the government the following privileges and rights."
Ronald Wilson Reagan
We give our permission to government to do the things that it does. And that's the whole story of the difference - why we're unique in the world and why no matter what our troubles may be, we're going to overcome.
A constitution is not the act of a government, but of a people constituting a government; and government without a constitution is power without a right. All power exercised over a nation, must have some beginning. It must be either delegated, or assumed. There are not other sources. All delegated power is trust, and all assumed power is usurpation. Time does not alter the nature and quality of either.
If by the mere force of numbers a majority should deprive a minority of any clearly written constitutional right, it might, in a moral point of view, justify revolution - certainly would if such a right were a vital one.
Simply put, freedom is the absence of government coercion. Our Founding Fathers understood this, and created the least coercive government in the history of the world. The Constitution established a very limited, decentralized government to provide national defense and little else. States, not the federal government, were charged with protecting individuals against criminal force and fraud. For the first time, a government was created solely to protect the rights, liberties, and property of its citizens. Any government coercion beyond that necessary to secure those rights was forbidden, both through the Bill of Rights and the doctrine of strictly enumerated powers. This reflected the founders' belief that democratic government could be as tyrannical as any King.
Few Americans understand that all government action is inherently coercive. If nothing else, government action requires taxes. If taxes were freely paid, they wouldn't be called taxes, they'd be called donations. If we intend to use the word freedom in an honest way, we should have the simple integrity to give it real meaning: Freedom is living without government coercion. So when a politician talks about freedom for this group or that, ask yourself whether he is advocating more government action or less.
Can the real Constitution be restored? Probably not. Too many Americans depend on government money under programs the Constitution doesn't authorize, and money talks with an eloquence Shakespeare could only envy. Ignorant people don't understand The Federalist Papers, but they understand government checks with their names on them.
Today, when a concerted effort is made to obliterate this point, it cannot be repeated too often that the Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals - that it does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government - that it is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizen's protection against the government.
To be sure, the U.S. Constitution is not perfect. Few human contrivances are. But it is a pretty good one, I think, and it defines and limits the scope of government. When we get into the habit of disregarding it or - what is the same thing - interpreting certain key phrases so broadly as to allow the federal government to do whatever it wants, we do so at our peril.
This is the source.
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